Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Key step allowing cell migration

10.07.2003


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered a prime regulator of the mechanism by which human cells migrate in health and in illness, a process crucial to sustaining life.



Their work helps explain how cells can stick to a surface long enough to pull themselves and move forward and then release that grip so that they can continue and not be anchored to one spot.

Cai Huang, a graduate student about to complete his doctorate in cell and developmental biology at the UNC School of Medicine, led the project. He and colleagues showed for the first time that an important enzyme known as JNK, which is involved in many cell regulatory pathways, also controls a central and complex step in the biochemical process.


A report on their work appears in the July 10 issue of Nature, the top British science journal. Co-authors are Drs. Ken Jacobson and Michael Schaller, professors of cell and developmental biology; Dr. Zenon Rajfur, research assistant professor of cell and developmental biology; and Dr. Christoph Borchers, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics and faculty director of the UNC Proteomics Core Facility.

"Cell migration is involved in a variety of normal and pathological events in life, including embryo development, wound healing and the abnormal, life-threatening movement of cancer cells that doctors call metastasis," Jacobson said. "Cai’s work demonstrates how phosphorylation of a single serine residue of an important protein component of cell adhesion, paxillin, can regulate cell migration."

Phosphorylation is a major signal in biology that involves joining a phosphorus group to specific amino acids, one of the ways living things regulate functions of proteins, he said. A serine residue is one of the 20 or so amino acids that are linked together in various combinations to form the many different proteins found in cells.

"For cells to be able to move, they must have adhesions that can break down from time to time," Jacobson said. "If they were permanent--in other words too sticky--the cell would be stuck. The new work shows this phosphorylation event is important in signaling the cell to disassemble some of its adhesions so that it can move."

The experiments were done on both fish scale cells and rat bladder tumor cells. They identify a specific biochemical pathway by which signals from outside cells--provided by hormones and growth factors--can regulate cell locomotion, he said. Understanding the complex cascade of molecular events could become a key to solving the mystery of how to stop cancer cells in their tracks, like nailing shoes to the floor.

"Another significance of this study is beyond cell migration," Huang said. "Previously, JNK was thought to function solely in cell nuclei. Our finding that paxillin, which is called a focal adhesion protein, is a target for the JNK enzyme indicates that JNK also plays an important role in cytoplasm, which is outside the nucleus."

Thus, the experiments greatly expand knowledge of what JNK does, he said.

"We expect to identify more cytoplasmic JNK targets in the near future," Huang said.



Besides cell and developmental biology, the researchers are affiliated with UNC’s Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and department of biochemistry and biophysics.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Cell Migration Consortium and the National Institute for Dental and Cranial Research supported the studies.

Note: Jacobson and Huang can be reached at 919-966-5703, frap@med.unc.edu or cai_huang@med.unc.edu.

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

nachricht When fish swim in the holodeck
22.08.2017 | University of Vienna

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular volume control

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

When fish swim in the holodeck

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>